Thu, 10 September 2009
Last week a writer emailed asking me what "Open Source Sex" means. I realized I'd talked about what it means in podcasts before, but haven't ever put forth a concrete definition of what it means in text.
This podcast "Open Source Sex" was created very early in the history of podcasting: I was the first female podcaster, seen in WIRED Magazine. Annalee Newitz wrote the groundbreaking podcasting article for WIRED that featured myself and Adam Curry. This podcast began in early January, 2005 and it was quite a feat of hacking -- when I was figuring it out, there were no real podcasting services and it was hotly debated as to whether it was working.
I wound up hosting my files with a shady company in Florida -- and when "Open Source Sex" took off and became extremely popular, the man who ran the hosting service revealed his anti-sex conservative Christian colors, and hijacked my RSS feed. A lot of people were angry to start getting a podcast about how Jesus had risen. They were happy with other things rising, thank you very much.
I was airlifted with much affection to Libsyn, where the podcast resides today.
When I started "Open Source Sex" I was already versed in blogging and knew I needed to have a manifesto and plan, and to stick to it. I decided to do erotica and sex education. And to never hold it to a schedule. I wanted a long term relationship, so I made the terms desirable but flexible. And I knew what "Open Source Sex" -- the idea, the belief -- meant from the start.
Each person's sexuality is as individual to them as a fingerprint. Human sexuality has long been a "closed source" environment, held back by a variety of forces. It's frigid, it's shameful, it's stereotypical, it's abstinent, it's full of agenda. Like any system, human sexuality must evolve, grow, change and function as part of the user's internal, and integral, ecosystem. There is no "one size fits all" for sex (even though that's what we're told), just as no operating system works for any individual "out of the box."
The tools for making these systems function -- code, seen here as basic sex information -- must be made freely available so we can all use, modify and redistribute it. And I always encourage people to put it together in the way that suits them best (in counseling we call this self-individuated sexuality), and as feels right for them. and when they need an update, as our sexuality ebbs and flows and changes over time, to feel free to reconfigure their system and tell everyone the first version was "beta."
This is open source sex.
Human sexuality, and especially accurate nonjudgmental sex information has commodified, locked down and made virtually inaccessible by interests ranging from politics to exclusivity agreements -- sex ed DRM, if you will. Open source sex doesn't just include the idea of making something like a sex lecture that I typically give at UCSF into a free downloadable MP3 (though I do exactly that when I podcast "Open Source Sex"). It also means presenting sexuality in a warm, welcoming way that doesn't make people feel shamed about pleasure in whatever form that pleasure takes. that includes a neutral approach to discussing topics like sexual fetishes and making no assumptions about whoever might be listening or reading.
A narrow view just doesn't work for, or help, anyone. All too often educators and entertainers talk down to their audience when on the subject of sex, as if the audience is automatically wrong, bad or "broken" for being interested in, laughing at, or liking sex. To me, this way of presenting the material is as outdated as the American "guys in raincoats" stereotype. Open source sex is the new school. This also means that my audience is free to be a variety of genders and orientations, interests and ideas, and levels of sexual experience.
I encourage people to explore, but also to say "ew" or "ick" whenever they need to. It's just as alright to say you dislike something or even laugh at it as it is to be turned on by it. Even if both reactions happen at once. Our experiences and desires will never be like anyone elses' -- they actually can't be -- just as no one system works for everyone and no two people will ever use a computer in the same way. Open source sex gives people tools to figure out what works for them.
And, rather than present it in the unsexiest way possible, sterile and safe from the mouths and pens of matrons or clinical figureheads, I chose to spice up my message with relevant sexiness, honesty, vulnerability, and a clear message about the adult right to sexual pleasure and health info.
I hope you enjoy my point of view. And I hope this finds you happy, adventurous, and well.
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42pm PST